Monday, September 6, 2010

AVATAR returns to theatres with extra footage

The theatrical re-release is billed as a special edition of the eco-themed fantasy with 8-1/2 minutes of extra footage.
It’s ba-a-a-ck ... and longer than ever. James Cameron’s sci-fi epic Avatar revisited global multiplexes last weekend in a quest to pad its record $2.74 billion worldwide box-office and hype DVD and Blu-ray Disc special editions planned for the fall. In fact, the theatrical re-release was billed as a “special edition” of the eco-themed fantasy based on an extra 8-1/2 minutes of footage featuring additional action segments and other scenes.
The 2D DVD and Blu-ray Disc special editions expected to hit store shelves in November will feature at least 16 minutes of extra Avatar footage, a source told The Hollywood Reporter. A 3-D version of the movie won’t be available for home entertainment until next year.
Avatar producer Jon Landau said in an interview that new scenes included in the now 171-minute theatrical special edition involve action sequences and narrative-deepening extensions of key scenes involving the blue-skinned Na’vi of Pandora and their human visitors.
“We tried to look at what people have responded to in the film and give them more of that,” Landau said. “There’s a whole new scene that takes place in the (Na’vi) school, there’s more night bioluminescence, there are new creatures, and there is a new action scene. The scenes don’t just feel like added scenes — they are very organic to the story and embellish it.”
Avatar originally bowed in 2D and 3-D on December 18, but the theatrical special edition was shown only in 3-D venues.
“About every 15 minutes you get something new that you haven’t seen before, which is kind of cool,” Fox domestic distribution chief Bruce Snyder said. “People want to go back to Pandora on the big screen.”
Last Friday, Fox distributed the special edition of Avatar in more than 800 U.S. and Canadian theatres, including roughly 125 Imax venues, though most of the latter specialty auditoriums played Avatar for two weeks only. Cameron shot several Avatar scenes using Imax cameras, and the global blockbuster stands as the specialty exhibitor’s top-grossing title with $236 million worldwide.
To date, Avatar has rung up $749.8 million domestically and $1.99 billion in foreign coin.
The version 2.0 Avatar was also released in more than 1,000 locations in 14 foreign territories including the U.K, Russia and Taiwan last week, including 50 overseas Imax sites. The pic’s theatrical special edition will bow later in some other countries, with Japan set to get the super-sized Avatar in October.
Fox Home Entertainment released a 2D version of the original 162-minute Avatar on DVD and Blu-ray on April 22. Neither version offered any special features, yet the DVD remains the top-grossing disc release of the year and the Blu-ray version set a format sales high in just its first four days. Fox hasn’t announced a specific date for 2D special editions of Avatar, which will feature even more extra footage and several bonus features.
The picture’s release in 3-D Blu-ray is delayed until 2011, because Fox and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment want to allow time for the installed base of 3-D capability home entertainment systems to grow. Similarly, Paramount Home Entertainment has yet to release Cameron’s 1997 theatrical opener Titanic on Blu-ray, continuing to hold out for a bigger installed footprint of the high-def format. Plans now call for a 3-D conversion of the disaster classic for a theatrical 3-D rerelease in 2012, but Paramount remains mum regarding home-entertainment release plans for Titanic.